Islamic bias in Brevard textbook? Lawmaker, others raise questions

FL-history-textbookMackenzie Ryan, Florida Today

Two Brevard School Board members are reviewing a world history textbook used in ninth grade Advance Placement classes amid concerns that it is biased in favor of Islam -- at the expense of Christianity and Judaism.

House Representative Ritch Workman and individuals from two citizens groups spoke against the textbook, Prentice Hall World History, at the Brevard School Board meeting Tuesday, citing examples of phrases and passages they believe show bias.

"Our children deserve facts and accuracy, not history being revised for our own failure or desire to not offend one culture or another," said Workman, a Republican from Melbourne.

The textbook, which has been used in Brevard for the past three years, devotes a chapter to Islam, with sections including the rise of Islam and the building of the Muslim empire. Conversely, Christianity and Judaism do not have their own chapters and instead are referenced in paragraphs embedded in other sections. ...

School board members Amy Kneessy and Andy Ziegler promised to review the textbook, which is published by Pearson, a well-known printer of educational textbooks. ...

Pearson Spokeswoman Susan Aspey said the company and its authors adhere to "the highest editorial standards when creating course materials, which undergo a rigorous review process."

"The textbook referenced was approved by the state of Florida and meets all requirements for the High School World History Course," she wrote in an email. "A review of the book shows there is balanced attention given to the beliefs of Islam, Judaism and Christianity."

The textbook in question is not scheduled to be replaced for another three years. It was selected for adoption by a district committee that included parents and educators. District leaders said an invitation was sent to ACT! for America, one of the groups raising concerns, to participate, but a representative did not attend at the time.

The two groups, Citizens for National Security and the Space Coast chapter of ACT!, have been researching school textbooks. Leaders say the groups have members in common, but act independently.

"The kids, when they come back to the school in the fall, are going to have this textbook, which is biased and incorrect," said Boca Raton resident William Saxton, chairman of the Citizens for National Security.

Wilfredo Ruiz, an attorney for Florida Council on American-Islamic Relations, believes the groups have an agenda in challenging textbooks that present Islam in an objective way.

"They just want to create an environment of intolerance toward Muslims and an environment of hate against Islam," he said. (Read the full article)